Thursday, May 26, 2011

To win at life

Still mostly sickly, and still on a ridiculous amount of medication with side-effects I don't care to mention, but I'll give you a little bit of what I've been thinking about, aside from my dislike for being sick and all the associated stuff.

Success. That's what I've been thinking about. Mostly as it relates to specific things I do and how I measure whether or not I was successful at them. I haven't spent too much time thinking about the wide-range definition of what it means to be successful at life, but I think the answer to that is something about earning the respect of the people you respect... or something.

No, I've been thinking much more narrowly about success as it pertains to being a wife, a home owner, and a renaissance festival performer. I'm going to skip the first completely because I don't have a good answer yet. As for number two, all I'm gonna say about that is that floors are not the answer.* Clean floors do not define my worth as a home-maker.

Now, as for the last on that list, I have some thing to say. If you're tired of hearing about Faire stuff, take heart--this is the last weekend. 3 final days of performance. I might have a few more things to say about it next week as I sit in a stupor, recovering on my couch, but for the most part, come June, I should be done thinking & talking about Faire for a while.

So, how do I define my success as a renaissance festival performer? I'm not sure. I mean, if I was sure, I probably wouldn't be thinking about it. In the beginning, when I didn't know what I was doing, I looked to the people who had been doing it to see if I was doing it right. I thought if I had their praise and recognition that I must be succeeding. That's where the mug and rose come in--tangible recognition from my peers.

There's another way that is totally wrong, but still true...which will make sense in a minute (I hope). Pictures. This one is from Photography on the Run. I once believed that if I was out and about enough, then there would be lots of pictures of me, so I decided that if there were lots of pictures of me, then I was doing my job well. This is really silly as most of my actual "work" wasn't caught on film, but I do have a knack for resting photogenically.

None of this was really important until I discovered that for all the 9 hours of show time that we actually have, my four 30 minute scheduled show times had consumed all of my time. I know it seems silly that 2 hours can take 9 hours to do, and it is silly. First of all, it's not just four 30 minute shows.
There are at least 2 snack breaks and a lunch break that combined take about an hour. Then there is the parade, which itself only takes about 25 minutes or so, but I like to get there early to get in line with plenty of time, then walk the parade, then walk back, so let's just say that's 45 right there. Of course, since my shows are singing shows, we should include the 20 minute or so warm-up that happens before the first show. And the real kicker is this--m 30 minute shows are both shorter and longer than that. Shorter, because we almost always end 5 minutes early to give time to give the closing spiel, pimp the next act and clear the stage. And longer, because there is the pre-show hawking and set up. On top of that, we don't just do our four shows. We always have some sort of fifth thing--whether it's singing at a pub on Saturdays or standing above the souvenir shop, so subtract an hour or so for that. Which adds up to a little more than five hours. So that's three hours to run around and just talk to strangers. Seems like a lot. Only, before, I had 8 hours to do that, and it was in very large chunks. Now, that three hours is chopped up into 30 minute blocks, which is plenty of time, unless you factor in my somewhat insane need to be on-time, by which I mean early, to scheduled events, so take 5 minutes off on either side, and then it's 20 minutes, which sometimes hardly seems like enough time to even take 20 steps. It's plenty of time, but there's a perception thing involved.

So anyway, I used to judge myself on how well I was doing as a performer on how many people I talked to. Was I being brave and talking to strangers and trying new things and using all the stuff I'd spent 8 weeks learning? Was I doing it often enough that I felt successful? That was how I judged myself. That was the standard I used. Basically I wanted to make sure I was using my time wisely. Then I signed up to do a stage show, and suddenly I wasn't out and about talking to people as much. I was still entertaining people, in a fully legitimate way, but that's when I realized that I'd built my definition of success around something other than entertaining people. Well, I guess I just had a more narrow definition of entertainment. It's not that I thought that the people who weren't doing what I was doing weren't doing their jobs, just that I wasn't... it was a very selfish and narrow definition of success. I think it also still goes back to the mug thing too. Even though I'm not striving for a mug, I still measure myself based on the things you get a mug for--which is excellence in the lanes, usually consistent and spectacular excellence. My excellence is now not as much in the lanes, and it's taken some mental adjusting to realize that I'm still successful, even if it's in a different way.

All this because this weekend, with the plague, I did little more than my four scheduled shows and a parade. Well, I took my snack and lunch breaks, but that hardly counts, does it? So, was I unsuccessful this weekend? Um... no. I wasn't spectacular, but I did serve my particular festival function, and I think I did it with a measure of style and... pinkness, so I'm going to say that counts as a win in my book.

*Turns out, neither are ninjas. One early morning, I sat up straight in bed from a dream and said, not too quietly, "Ninjas are not the answer." I have no idea what I meant by that, but it's stuck with me ever since.

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